County debates cottage height rules

A Red Deer County councillor is concerned new height rules proposed for condominium resorts will prove too restrictive and lead to unsightly cottage designs.

A Red Deer County councillor is concerned new height rules proposed for condominium resorts will prove too restrictive and lead to unsightly cottage designs.

County council unanimously approved first reading of a bylaw amendment on Tuesday that would change the way maximum heights are determined for the cottages that have sprung up at new developments such as Whispering Pines on Pine Lake.

A planning report to council says concerns have been raised regarding the latitude of interpretation of the land-use bylaw.

Councillor Jim Wood said proposed changes would alter the way heights were measured from the grade of the land, by averaging high and low points on a lot.

“The concern is if that happens it would not allow walk-out basements. I believe walk-out basements are an efficient use of a piece of property and actually quite a nice, livable space.”

In hilly areas like the Whispering Pines lots, builders would need to design flat roofs to meet the bylaws. The resulting buildings would not be as aesthetically pleasing, he added.

Whispering Pines Golf and Country Club Resort general manager Larry Dyck also does not support the new height rules.

“It completely changes what you have the ability to do,” he said.

Dyck is concerned if the height restrictions are adopted it could lead to construction of cottages that look more like garages than the peaked roof examples already popular in the development.

Under existing rules, the maximum height allowed at Whispering Pines is 3.6 metres (12 feet) from grade to the bottom of eaves.

But at Gleniffer Reservoir Resort the maximum height allowed is 5.34 metres (17 feet, six inches) from grade to peak of the roof.

Planners are proposing that the Gleniffer standards be used for all condominium resorts. It is also proposed that the highest and lowest point of a lot be averaged to determine the grade from which building heights are measured. Previously, heights were measured from the highest point of ground upon which the building sat.

Council also gave first reading to changes to the area structure plan for Whispering Pines.

The old plan did not allow for the kinds of cottages that are already being built there.

Last summer, council voted not to approve any more cottage developments until the structure plan was changed so it matched county land-use bylaws.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com